Originally Posted by oriolesmagic
Originally Posted by bus511
... [humongous cable company] is required by federal law to provide you with your local stations at no add'l. charge
That has never existed as a law.
The only laws that exist (and they only exist in some locales) regulate the cost of broadcast TV service. Never has it been given to anyone for free.
You're right, and in many places the cable companies charge twenty dollars (or more) per month for that very basic package (typically the local stations along with some public access and governmental affairs channels) that exists only because federal law mandates that the cable company must offer such a package.
The law is very weak and is set up to benefit the cable companies.
In most cases, local governments do not have the right to regulate those rates, even though there is typically only one cable company in an area.
The law says, if I understand it correctly, that if there is any "significant competition" for the cable company, then the local government cannot regulate the rates for that package. Because the availability of satellite TV is considered "significant competition" in most locations, the local government rarely has any power to cap prices, though it may have some small amount of power to regulate some aspects of the service.
In some states, the state legislature has taken away all local power and decided that any regulation has to be done at the state level. Often this happens in states that love big business and don't care about consumers.